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Let’s talk about the benefits of medical marijuana. As the decriminalization of medical cannabis continues to sweep across the United States, it is becoming accessible to more and more people. While there are many negative connotations associated with marijuana use, this is perhaps because the average person does not understand all the possible benefits of medical marijuana.
Studies have indicated that the most common self-reported reason for using cannabis is rooted in its ability to reduce feelings of stress, tension, and anxiety. It’s a matter of tolerance. If you get too high of a dose of THC, you can find yourself more panicked and anxious than you would be normally. However, regulated doses can soothe stress and anxiety. All of this is thanks to the endocannabinoid system, which controls how marijuana interacts with the brain. This system regulates stress levels through the release of the same chemicals found in marijuana. When a person smokes, this system is activated and begins to reduce stress right away, as long as the dose is controlled.
Stops Arthritis Pain
The benefits of medical cannabis don’t stop with mental health. Arthritis pain effects over 50 million adults in the United States. There is no cure for arthritis, and until recently there were few treatments for the intense pain caused by it. Recent studies have shown that there are unusually high levels of receptors for one of the chemicals in marijuana (C2) present in arthritic joints. Cannabis use can activate those receptors and combat pain and inflammation.
While research into the effects of medical cannabis on Alzheimer’s is still predominantly preclinical, the results are looking promising. In a recent study, small doses of THC were found to slow the production of proteins that contribute to the progression of Alzheimer’s. Medical cannabis can also be effective in treating dementia, a symptom of Alzheimer’s that is characterized by aggression and confusion. It is thought that THC prevents the buildup of the plaque that is in part responsible for causing dementia.
Glaucoma is caused by damage to the optic nerve, often by a build-up of pressure inside the eyeball. IOP, or intra-ocular pressure, is how this pressure is measured. Since the 70s, marijuana has been used to treat Glaucoma. However, recent studies have shown that it only lowers a person’s IOP for a few hours at most. It can be used in conjunction with other medications for better results.
Reduces and/or Eliminates Epileptic Seizures
Another benefit of medical marijuana that has been more publicized recently is its effect on epileptic seizures, especially in children. About 100,000 children have what’s called "intractable epilepsy," which is treatment resistant and characterized by uncontrollable seizures. A third of people with epilepsy have intractable, drug-resistant types of the disease. While it is hard to get approval to test the benefits of medical cannabis on children, anecdotal evidence is easy to find. “Since beginning her marijuana oil regimen earlier this year… episodes are down to 30 per day at most," one father reports. This number may sound high, but the girl was having roughly 200 seizures per day before starting this regimen.
Reduces Pain in MS Patients
To live with Multiple Sclerosis is to live with pain. A neurodegenerative autoimmune disease, MS impacts the brain and spinal cord directly. The body begins to attack its own neurons, causing intense pain. THC essentially shuts off the immune system, which stops it from attacking the neurons. It also prevents brain inflammation, another symptom of MS that can cause debilitating pain. There are a host of other benefits of medical cannabis on Multiple Sclerosis, including assisting with sleeplessness caused by pain, controlling spasms and stiffness, and assisting with digestion.
Treats Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s is another neurodegenerative disorder, this one caused by the destruction of neurons in specific areas of the brain that control motor function. Patients often have trouble with severe tremors and difficulty with voluntary movement. A recent study showed that smoking medical marijuana decreased symptoms in participants. Pain is also an issue with Parkinson’s, and as previously noted, a benefit of medical marijuana is its pain relieving chemical processes.
Counteracts Chemotherapy Side Effects
Cancer is a terrible disease with a treatment (chemotherapy) that causes nausea, hair loss, and a host of other symptoms. Luckily, medical cannabis can combat some of the side effects of chemo. A 2008 study discovered that Nabilone (a synthetic cannabinoid) was incredibly effective at decreasing nausea in chemotherapy patients. Another symptom that medical cannabis can treat is the intense depression that can accompany the physical symptoms of chemotherapy. Studies have found that another benefit of medical cannabis is that its chemicals can alleviate depression naturally.
Calms Lupus Symptoms
Lupus is another autoimmune disease that causes sometimes severe inflammation throughout a person’s body. Healthy tissues are confused for invading bacteria or viruses and attacked by the immune system. Much like in treating MS, marijuana can relieve the pain and inflammation caused by the disease. There are few studies surrounding the benefits of medical cannabis on Lupus, but many anecdotes from patients whose lives have been changed by the pain-relieving properties of THC.
“The benefits of the cannabis plant elements were known before but the drastic reduction of brain cancers if used with irradiation is something new and may well prove promising for patients who are in gravely serious situations with such cancers in the future.” —Dr. Wai Liu, lead researcher on a recent study into the effects of cannabis on cancer cells.
Cancer is a terrible disease that was once a death sentence. Today, new studies are showing that “purified extracts from whole-plant marijuana” can slow, if not stop, one of the most serious types of brain tumors.
The benefits of medical marijuana are numerous, and there are many more than we have listed here. It can counteract the symptoms of other diseases such as Crohn’s, Hepatitis C, and even treat the effects of a stroke. It’s an incredible drug that has been inhibited for a decade by laws preventing its study, use, and sale. While there are those who find cannabis fun to use recreationally. More and more people are learning about the benefits of medical cannabis and pushing for further study into its helpful properties.